It’s becoming a worldwide phenomenon: classical portraiture is popping up on crumbling brick walls and gritty side streets in places like Barcelona, Pakistan, Tasmania, and even Portland, Oregon, left behind by artists of a new participatory guerilla art movement dubbed the Outings Project.
The man behind the mission is French filmmaker and visual artist Julien de Casabianca. As the story goes, during an afternoon browsing the Louvre, Casabianca was struck by an overlooked painting of an unnamed girl by distinguished French Neoclassical artist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. Casabianca wanted to liberate her. So he took a photograph, printed it out, and pasted it on a public building in Paris. His dream: unshackle lesser-known art from their natural environment—the confines of a white-walled museum—and thrust them into the unassuming public’s eye.
Stripped of their contextual backgrounds, the unidentified historical figures (a troubadour lighting up a cigarette, a pensive mother holding her child, a smirking ingénue wrapped in mink) take on a surrealist quality, injecting a particular beauty into otherwise inconspicuous corners of urban life—beauty that might otherwise have been lost among other museum masterworks.